So I've decided we will study the Fruit of the Spirit for the next 9 Smorgasbord Tuesdays. Summer is approaching (it's dragging it's feet in WI) and the thought of wearing a swimsuit is upon us. If you are like me, you may have to shed a little of that winter coat you collected over the last 6 months. My sister Wendy and I are doing Jillian's 30 Day Shred together; for us it is more like Jillian's 45-50 day shred, with a few treats in between (it's the thought that counts right?).
Anyway, as I am trying to clean up my diet and exercise it always turns me to applying God's Word into my life(way more enjoyable to me than exercise); hence the idea to study the fruit of the Spirit, to make our spiritual lives more healthy. How do you get fruit in your physical part of life? You either go to the grocery store, or you go directly to the source the fruit tree. You can't just pick it though, you need to eat it in order to get the benefits. The same it true in our Christianity. Do you want the fruit of the Spirit in your life? All you need to do is go to the source and ask for it. Other ways you can "taste" it is by hearing it at church or by reading the Word on your own. But very simply, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you, tapping His toes waiting for you to give Him permission to move. Start asking Him for His help and you will see the difference that it makes.
So this week's fruit is LOVE. What is love? Love is patient, it is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not self-seeking, it keeps no record of wrong, it always trusts, always hopes, always preservers. Love comes first, in the list of the fruit because it is the foundation of our lives; nothing is of value if it doesn't contain love. We love because He first loved us. The greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then to love others. We can't successfully live this life without love. The way to be most successful at living this life is to go to the source who lives inside of you, who wants to help you and teach you how to love!
So here is what I'm asking you to do. If you don't have a journal you should have one! (Don't worry, I only write in mine at least once a month...) Anyway, write down the fruit of the week in your journal and put the rank you would give yourself currently in applying this to your life (from 1 ~ I stink to 10 ~ I've got this down pat!). Now this week take the fruit of the week and apply it to your life ~ not on your own strength though but by asking the Holy Spirit! I'm not about us gritting our teeth and pushing through, because that only lasts for so long. I'm about us experiencing the real freedom that comes only through the working of the Holy Spirit. Next week I will remind you to look back at your journal and write your new number and see if there has been any difference. Get the idea?
Be excited! I am.
This months Resources contain ways that you can save $$$!
First, I added a new feature to my website: a coupon bar from Coupons.com. By clicking on this coupon bar you can print coupons directly from my website. So now you can save money while reading my blog! There are some good coupons there for stuff you really do use: like Kraft mayo, cheese, Oscar Mayer deli meat and more.
I am also passing along two blogs that I follow that give tips on how to save money. I have found both blogs to be very helpful and I am learning how to save real money.
Mom for Him is an amazing site! She has a family of 6 and feeds them all on a budget of $275 a MONTH! She is kind enough to share her secrets. I'm learning a lot and saving money but my budget is still not that low! She is also great at updating on any coupon deals; like BOGO free ice cream from Wendy's, free chocolate every Friday until September, and more. She is definitely worth stopping by and following.
Another money-saving blog I follow is called Latina on a Mission. She is a single mom from New York City and she shares a lot of money saving ideas too. Some of them duplicate Mom for Him, some of them are only valid in New York but some are good for anywhere. Tonight for instance, she blogged about a Restaurant.com discount. Restaurant.com allows you to buy coupons at a discounted price (for instance spend $10 but get a $25 dollar gift certificate). This weekend however you can save 80% with the code SPECIAL. I got $50 of gift certificates for only $4.00 (note when I go to eat I have to spend $35 so my out of pocket will be $24 for $70 worth of food). Restaurant.com contains restaurants nationwide; so you don't have to live in this area to get a discount. Latina on a Mission also runs contests. This month's contest is for a free pair of new Payless Shoes value of $25.
So if you are like me and always looking for a way to save a buck or get something for free, you will want to check out these websites.
This is what I have found about myself: when "bad" stuff happens I end up throwing out all the good things and jump feet first into a negative hole.
For instance, my daughter is 3 years old and at times can be very challenging. I love her to pieces and she has really helped me grow, but I've really had to grow. We might be having a terrific day, she is obeying, cooperating, not whining, etc. We are having a really good day. Then she throws a tantrum and out goes all the "good" she has done. I immediately start thinking, "she will never change, why does she have to be so difficult" and it is like the whole "good part of the day" didn't even happen. Then even if she gets her act together, I'm still stuck in crabbyville and if nothing "bad" happens over the next hour then maybe I will be fine and start to breathe again (you can hold your breath for a really long time when you have toddlers).
I do this in my marriage, too. I know you thought I had a perfect marriage; we are close but not quite there yet! You know how the argument goes, "You always do that!" I suddenly forget the whole week beforehand and all the times he didn't do that and all I can think is "this is how you always are; you are never going to change."
And guess where else, I do this; I do this in my relationship with God. Things are good, I'm praising Him, trusting Him then something bad happens and suddenly I find myself saying, "Where are you God; you must not care about me" and panic sets in.
I'm glad I'm not alone in this; this is how the Israelites acted. I always read Exodus and say, "How can you be like that!" God did amazing miracle after miracle and now you are getting a little thirsty and you are ready to throw God out the door and return to Egypt? I used to think "I was above this" but now I'm realizing I'm pretty much the same way.
One of the ways I have begun to counteract this problem was with the creation of the Rock Bowl. It has really helped me to not "freak out" when a new problem arises. I am reminded that the God who is faithful in the Bible, is still faithful today in the everyday realities of my life. I think that God wanted the Israelites to stop freaking out and just trust Him! But they chose to whine and complain instead. I think the same applies to me today, God wants me to stop and look to Him instead of whining and complaining.
Back to my kids and husband: this "problem" is now on my radar screen. When I get involved in a negative situation with them I am trying to pause, pray and ask God to help me not make negative agreements about what is taking place; help me to see that this is just a bump in the road and not turn it into a pothole!
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. (I Corinthians 13:6-7)
Above all love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8).
After blogging about this, it sounds like I need to start pulling out love during these situations. Love pushes through the bad times and hopes, believes and perseveres until the good times.
One of my favorite sayings by John Eldredge is, "You will know them by their fruit." If you are unsure whether the things happening in your life are from God or from the enemy you can figure it out by looking at the fruit of what is happening.
James 3:17-18 provides a glance at the some of the "evidence" that would show us things are coming from heaven. God provides us a "check-off" list to see if things came from Him or from the enemy. Is it pure, is it peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy, impartial and sincere? If you can answer yes to these questions, then you know it is from Him.
The verses prior to this section state some of the evidence we can look for to see if it comes from the enemy:
I think as Christians we sometimes hurt ourselves by assuming that since we are children of God everything that happens in our life comes from God. We get involved in a situation where we are being hammered and we are surrounded by disorder and evil and we embrace it. The Bible says in Romans 12:9 "Hate was is evil, cling to what is good." I think it is time we start calling things by their face value: evil is evil, we can and should hate it and we can cling to the things that are good and from the Lord.
If you are having trouble defining which category something falls into then run it through the checklist: You will know them by their fruit. I firmly believe we are in a spiritual battle. If we keep running around with our eyes closed thinking the enemy who hate us and is making war against us can't touch us because we are God's children then we will keep getting blown out of the water.
The sooner we open our eyes and realize that God says we are in a battle and that He has equipped us and has given us the ability to say some things are right and some things are wrong, the sooner we can start fighting effectively.
Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.
If you find yourself caught in a situation where the evidence is from the enemy, don't give in to him. Instead of embracing it and trying to put God's name on it, call it what it is: evil. Then invite Him in to do what only He can do: redeem it and bring good from it. Put Your Clothes On and fight the battle.
I miss your million dollar smile, the waving of your hand,
We knew each moment with you was precious; that it
Romans 3:1-4 (The Message)
So what difference does it make who's a Jew and who isn't, who has been trained in God's ways and who hasn't? As it turns out, it makes a lot of difference—but not the difference so many have assumed. First, there's the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for God's revelation, these Holy Scriptures. So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn't abandon them. Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth.
We were sitting in a home that was an original farmstead (built in 1895) and we were discussing how much society has radically changed over the last 100 years with the development of radios, movies, television, airplanes, automobiles and more. He was asking me if there was any biblical prophecies that would predict the radical changes that have occurred over the last 100 years. I mentioned how in Revelation 11:9 it discussed the prophets being killed in Jerusalem and how "For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial." The only way this statement makes sense it that everyone could gaze on them is through television. The result of this conversation brought us into discussing the end times and this is when my history lesson began.
In 1950, Mr. S became a salesman for CBS selling advertising for television. He said at that time, no one realized the significance of television, everyone thought the money was in radio and television was a passing fancy. Every single radio advertisers at CBS was asked if they wanted the job to sell ads for television and every single one of them said no, so Mr S. ended up with the job. Unpredicted by anyone, within the 10 year period of 1950 to 1960 television took over the USA and revolutionized the world as it was known throughout history... (I shall return to this)
As we discussed communication and its relation to the end times Mr. S pointed out that the Bible states that the second coming of Christ will not occur until the Jewish people are converted. He then went back to the beginning of the Bible and discussed how God in His providence chose the Jews to be His chosen people. In the beginning of time, God chose the Jews to market to the world the character of God; they were His representatives/messengers/storytellers. As Mr. S said, "Jews are geniuses" by the design of God in the area of marketing. When Jesus walked on this world he walked along the water and pointed at three nobodies, Peter, James and John and said follow me. All the disciples were uneducated men but God chose 12 of them to revolutionize the world (2,000 years ago) and they did just that because of their innate talent as Jewish people to be His messengers.
So what does all this have to do with movies and television? In 1925, movies without sound started coming out of Hollywood. By 1927, movies with pictures and sound emerged. The men who became the heads of the most famous studios Paramount, MGM, FOX film corporation, Warner Brothers and Universal Studios were all Jewish (Samuel Goldwyn, Louis B Mayer, Marcus Loew , Nicholas Schenck, William Fox, Irving Thalberg, Adolph Zukor, Carl Laemmle, and Albert Warner(and his 2 brothers). If you read their bios you will see that all 11 of these men come from Jewish, mostly poor immigrant backgrounds, and out of nowhere came and dominated the film industry with names that still dominate even today. You will also see the words: "innate and geniuses" intertwined throughout their biographical information. Do you recognize a theme? Men of no influence or trained background, revolutionizing the world through telling stories?
At the time Mr. S was a salesman for CBS there were 3 main entities influenced television: CBS (William Paley,), NBC (David Sarnoff) and ABC (Leonard Goldenson) The heads of all three of these companies were Jewish. As Mr. S beautifully he was a hard worker but the Jewish people have a genius because of God's innate design and that is why they were so successful in this area. Mr S. stated "You may have the best shows but if you don't know how to promote them they will go nowhere." The revolution in human history over the last 100 years was again sparked by men talented by God's design ~ the innate talent of His Chosen Ones brought about a revolutionary change to the world culture.
Mr. S emphasized throughout the conversation that we in this time do not understand the significance of where we stand in the place of history. The last 100 years have been a huge acceleration in progress of mankind. The beauty of it all is that it is according to God's original Sovereign design; the Jews of which only there are 12 million in a world population of 6 billion were used to revolutionize the communication world which as a result has revolutionized the entire world.
So folks here are the "dots" I have made and conncected since learning this history (this now is my personal opinion alone and came out of what I heard and learned). As the Church we have failed to recognize the significance of the Jewish people. As "evangelical Christians" we have hated Hollywood and all the evil it has brought into the world (for good reasons). But perhaps what we have failed to recognize is that maybe we missed an open door. God had placed His most talented ones in the most important seats. In 1925 the movie industry was controlled by His Chosen People. In 1950 the radio and television world was controlled by God's chosen people. They had the talent, but they were missing the heart. Movies, television and radio are the most influential influences in the world today and guess who recognized the extent of its influence, the enemy, and he has taken full advantage of it. Can you imagine if just these men had found the Lord? Where our society would be today?
Evangelical Christians" have been called "hard workers." As Mr. S said, he was a hard worker but he admitted he was missing the natural geniuses that the Jews held in this department. We as Christians have the best message in the world, but we aren't doing a very good job promoting it. Perhaps it is because we aren't the ones with the talent? We as the Church have really "bombed" when it has come to having an ability to move into the realm of media in an influential way. We may have the heart but we just haven't found the way to breakthrough. There has been a tide in the Church today changing our hearts from coming up with the best "programs to evangelize" to recognizing the need for intercession. After my conversation on Monday I have a greater appreciation for one reason why this may be. We are "hard workers" and God wants us to continue to intercede for revival. But perhaps the way He wants to turn the world upside down again is by using His Chosen people, the ones He naturally endowed with the talent to market Him? As a result of this conversation, I personally believe that one of our primary focuses of intercession in this hour should be for the Father to call His Chosen Ones back to Himself. This may very well be the door He will run through to get His message out to the whole world again. In 1925 and 1950 God opened the door and gave His Chosen Ones a platform of extreme influence but they were missing the heart. As the Church, let us come in line with the heartbeat of the Father to see the need for His Chosen Ones to be redeemed so that the next time He opens wide the door of influence to His Chosen Ones their hearts will be in the right place.
Romans 3:1-3 (The Message)
That second to last paragraph was the culmination of this posting but here are a few final thoughts. As I said earlier, this conversation was the most fascinating historical conversation that I have had in my life. It fascinated me that someone has lived history and has been able to step back and recognize the bigger picture of where it all lands in the place of human history and to recognize that we are in extraordinary times. Also, as an intercessor it opened my eyes to the importance of the Jewish people and the need to be interceding for their salvation.
Finally, as always I am amazed at the tapestry of God. Each of these individuals by themselves, including Mr. S himself, were just living their lives and doing their jobs. They did not recognize at the time that they were creating history, that they were revolutionizing the world. However, when you step back 60 years later and reflect on the "bigger picture" you see the amazing hand of God still involved in human history. So folks, realize as you are walking through your everyday life, doing your day to day tasks that you are part of a bigger beautiful tapestry and there will be a day where it is fully revealed how your role was part of making a difference in this story of His story.
I found these passages of Scripture intriguing this week. First, I was struck by the fact that no one knows the hour, not even the Son. Have you ever really thought about this? I've read this before but it didn't effect my perspective of heaven. As I was contrasting this Scripture to what I thought about heaven I realized that I thought heaven had a big clock ticking down: 200 years, 12 hours, 13 minutes and 10 seconds. Everyone in heaven was tapping their toes waiting for the end to come. But they are not. Jesus and the angels are in the same boat as us ~ they know what Revelation says, they see what we are doing here on earth and they are cheering us on and fighting alongside of us as we wait in eager expectation for the fullness of the Father's heart to be revealed.
So what are we supposed to be doing while we wait for Jesus' return? Relationship is one of the key things we should be pursuing. In Jesus' parable He says the wicked servant began beating his fellow servants. This is what grieved His heart. Jesus didn't emphasize that they had let their business slide, or they lost thousands of dollars rather He focused in on the way they were treating one another.
I know you've heard me talk about relationships before, but I really think we need to get this. The Bible commands us to "Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love one another." This is the point of life and the sooner we "get it" the better!
Nevaeh truly slipped away from us quickly ~ even with her health issues it was on no ones' radar that she was leaving us that soon. Her leaving has truly brought a "gentleness" into our home that has never been here before. It is hard to be be impatient and harsh with someone when you are reminded that it is just a privilege to even have one another. Death gives you an appreciation for life and it makes you realize the value of each breath that you take. It truly is a gift ~ what are you doing with it?
Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
This verse has been a motto for my life since a young age. My biological father died a month before I was even born so I've always grown up with the understanding that life is short and could end at any moment. As a result, I try to live my life from the perspective that my days are numbered and today could potentially be my last. So at the end of most nights I ask myself if I could die tonight without any regrets. If my kids, my husband and my friends woke up in the morning and I was gone what would their last memories of me be? Would it be laughing, loving and enjoying life or would it be crabby, yelling and arguing? I love the days when I can say, this was a "perfect day," I could go today.
I don't know when my last days, hours or minutes will be. I don't know if I will be going home in the rapture or if the Lord will take me a different way. But what I do know is that life is short, but a breath and what the Lord asks of us is that we love Him and love one another. That is what measures life.
I know you were beginning to think I forgot; I didn't ~ just a little late! For my newbies, welcome! You can read the original concept for this day at the first Smorgasbord Tuesday posting but the general idea is that on Tuesday's I try to pick out a passage of Scripture for us to meditate on. Feel free to leave comments on the Scripture passage. If you like the Scripture, write it down on an index card and stick it some place where you can reflect on it all week long. Enjoy!!
O LORD, our Lord,
From the lips of children and infants
When I consider your heavens,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
all flocks and herds
the birds of the air,
O LORD, our Lord,
The biggest "gift" I left my vacation with was an awe for the majesty of God. There is something about traveling to new locations that allows you to observe a different attribute of God.
One of my favorite things to look at was the wide expanse of the gulf (my parents live on a little island off the gulf coast of Florida. We just cross one little street and we are walking on white sand beaches~ pretty close to paradise). All you could see was water and sky and there was no way to differentiate between where one began and the other ended. You don't get that feeling here in Wisconsin. We are engulfed by trees and houses and you have to look straight up to see the sky. In the city, you get consumed with the things of man and you get caught up in your little life and thinking we are the all in all. Standing in front of crashing waves and seeing nothing but God's creation gives you a sense of how small and insignificant we really are. It caused me to truly surrender to the greatness of God, His awesomeness as a Creator, His strength, power and His majesty.
If you are currently caught up in the problems of your life and are getting consumed by the things of this world I encourage you to step out and observe God's creation. As my women's pastor always says, "We need to step back and see the BIG PICTURE." You don't have to be by the ocean to see the splendor of the King; wherever you are you can observe the beauty of His creation. Perhaps it will pull you back into awe for Him that He even cares for us and in addition to that He loves us and sent His only Son to die for us to make a way for us to go to Him. Enjoy the beauty of the King this week.
This morning in my quiet time the Lord took me back to Job (I've been reading it slowly over the last couple of months). I have never really understood Job because to me half the book is listening to people talk about what they think. As I read it, I find myself agreeing with a lot of what they have to say but then we find out in the end that the Lord wasn't pleased with what they had to say. Obviously, since I blog I have lots of opinions on matters and Job reminded me this morning that sometimes it is best to be quiet!
Nevaeh passed away on Sunday and we were sitting in church when we got the news that something was very wrong. The pastor had just finished preaching a sermon on The Sovereignty of God; if anything could prepare you for the worst, I guess that was the closest thing possible. He had ended the sermon with
I guess this is where I want to land during this season. I like answers, I like to understand why, I want explanations but unless the Lord reveals it to us it will remain a secret on this side of heaven. As the pastor said during Nevaeh's funeral , "there are no words" ~ and that is okay.
I talked to one of Jamie's close friends who has lost a child and a husband and I asked her, "What does Jamie need right now?" She said Jamie just needs to be loved. That truly is what I want to do during the next years as she processes the loss of her precious daughter.
Our family needs the grace of God during this difficult season. I pray that humility will be the banner on all of our hearts as we grieve.
The primary comment for me at the funeral was, "This must be hard because you spear-headed prayer on behalf of Nevaeh for healing."
So now I'm crying. I thought I had landed somewhere, but I guess I haven't.
But it does take me back to one of my first posts The Rockets Red Glare and my prayer and hope still lies in there. At the time I wrote it, I didn't think Nevaeh would be one of our losses, but I guess she was.
Do I regret fighting? No. I am glad that I did everything I knew how to do in regards to prayer.
And so, that's where I am at,
PS My brother-in-law Matt is planning on blogging for the next 52 weeks as he processes the passing of Nevaeh. If you would like to read her story or follow the process of healing the family will be going through you can visit: http://caringbridge.org/visit/nevaehw . Thanks